Sunday 29 December 2013

Heavier traffic penalties in school zones from 1 January 2014

Errant motorists will get an extra demerit point in new safety measure
By Joyce Lim, The Straits Times, 28 Dec 2013

STARTING on Jan 1, motorists caught committing the offence of careless driving, inconsiderate driving, beating the red light, or speeding within school zones will get an extra demerit point on top of those already levied.

In a move to step up enforcement against errant motorists in these areas, the extra demerit point will apply to all school zones, said the Traffic Police.

Not all schools are now demarcated by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) as a school zone. But the LTA will start demarcating secondary schools as such from the second quarter of next year. This will be completed by end-2015.

There are more than 300 school zones at primary and special schools.

A police spokesman told The Straits Times yesterday: "The demerit points will apply in all 'designated' school zones, whether they are primary, secondary or special schools."

Concerns were raised after brothers Nigel and Donavan Yap were killed in an accident in January outside Dunman Secondary School in Tampines.

The two boys, aged 13 and seven, were cycling home when a cement-mixer truck hit their bicycle, killing them instantly at a traffic junction near the school.

Their deaths led to a public outcry over the deteriorating safety of children within school zones.

Last year, two children were killed and four injured in school zones, compared with three injured the year before.

The harsher punishment could see a driver who holds a licence for less than a year having it revoked if he is caught running a red light within a school zone.

New drivers with less than a year's driving experience are allowed a maximum of 12 demerit points in one year, and beating a red light within a school zone would draw 13 demerit points.

About 200 primary and special schools have red paving for part of the road surface near their gates to catch the attention of drivers and alert them to look out for schoolchildren using the pedestrian crossing.

These enhanced school zones also have bigger traffic signs to indicate where the zone starts and ends.

The police said the principals of all primary schools and special schools located within school zones have been informed of this new enforcement initiative.

The Traffic Police will also be working with the schools to disseminate related information and advisories to parents and guardians of pupils when schools reopen next month.

Parents had mixed reactions to the extra demerit point scheme.

While they generally welcomed it, some questioned how the Traffic Police would be able to carry out enforcement.

Police said this would be conducted through targeted operations, as well as follow-up investigations following public feedback.

Many accidents involving kids 'can be prevented'
By Joanna Seow, The Sunday Times, 5 Jan 2014

Road traffic accidents that resulted in fatalities and injuries dipped to just under 6,000 cases between January and November last year.

This was about 11 per cent lower than the 6,612 cases over the same period in 2012.

But despite efforts by the authorities to improve road safety around schools, there are still some accidents involving young children on the road, said Education Minister Heng Swee Keat.

"Every life lost is a tragic loss, and we know that many of these accidents can be prevented," he said.

His comments, delivered during a speech at a community event to promote road safety in Tampines yesterday, came just days after new traffic rules in school zones, with heavier penalties, kicked in at the start of the new year.

Motorists caught committing the offence of careless driving, inconsiderate driving, beating the red light or speeding within school zones will get an extra demerit point starting from this month, on top of those already levied.

The new measure was first unveiled in March last year by Second Minister for Home Affairs S. Iswaran during the Budget debate.

This was after brothers Nigel and Donavan Yap were killed in an accident about a year ago near Dunman Secondary School in Tampines.

The death of the two boys, aged 13 and seven, led to a public outcry over the deteriorating level of safety for children within school zones.

Mr Heng said adults also had a part to play to ensure the safety of children on the roads.

He said: "While we ask our children to do their part to obey and promote road safety, we as adults must not forget that children see the world through us.

"Let us be good role models and obey traffic rules ourselves, and let us take extra effort to be vigilant on the roads, especially in areas where children will congregate."

About 200 members of the National Police Cadet Corps (NPCC) from secondary schools in Tampines and 100 People's Association grassroots leaders and volunteers fanned out across the estate yesterday to share tips on road safety as part of the "Spot It, Stay Safe" programme.

East Spring Secondary School student Wee Xin Ze, 15, was among the NPCC cadets who went around speaking to residents.

He said: "Lives are very important, and by raising awareness about road safety, we can help the community stay safe."

* 45 traffic offences committed in school zones in Jan 2014
By Sumita D/O Sreedharan, TODAY, 7 Feb 2014

Forty-five traffic offences were committed within school zones in January, the first month that new rules, which penalise such errant motorists with an extra demerit point, were imposed.

Speeding was the top problem, making up 17 of the cases, according to figures revealed by the Traffic Police yesterday. A close second was careless driving (16), followed by beating the red light (11) and one case of inconsiderate driving, they added. The Traffic Police did not track figures for traffic offences specific to school zones prior to January.

When the media observed the traffic police conducting enforcement operations outside three school zones in the eastern part of Singapore, the two violations logged over three hours were also for speeding. Both motorists were caught along Upper East Coast Road outside Temasek Secondary School, travelling at about 20km/hr over the 50km/hr speed limit. Such offences usually carry a penalty of a fine of S$150 and seven demerit points.

Responding to the statistics for last month, Member of Parliament for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC Gan Thiam Poh expressed concern over the numbers, pointing out that it represented more than one violation each day.

“Where public safety is concerned, there should be no compromise, even one case is too many,” said Mr Gan, who is also a member of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport.

He added that road safety, especially within school zones, was the top concern among his residents.

The new extra demerit point system came after road safety became a hot topic following the deaths of two young boys at a traffic junction near Dunman Secondary School. They were hit by cement-mixer truck driver Munir Mohd Naim, who was sentenced to two weeks’ jail last month.

No other traffic offences were detected yesterday during the enforcement blitz at the other school zones outside Temasek Primary School in Bedok and Punggol Green Primary School in Punggol.

Parents TODAY spoke to outside Temasek Primary School said the road would usually be lined with cars waiting to pick up students after school. The road was empty yesterday, however, which parents attributed to an enforcement officer standing nearby with a camcorder.

Said homemaker Alice Lee, 37: “It seems to have brought out the best behaviour in some parents.”

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